For the first time since 2014, No. 3 Cal women’s rowing was unable to dominate No. 2 Stanford in this year’s edition of the annual Big Row. For the past four seasons, the Bears have been dominated the meet, but this year, the Cardinal were able to hold their own in the waters.
Out of the six races at Redwood Shores, only Cal’s undefeated varsity eight boat and novice eight boat were able to outperform Stanford, with Stanford taking the third varsity eight, second varsity four, varsity four and second varsity eight.
The Bears had an incredible start and finish to this year’s edition of the Big Row. Cal’s novice eight boat was able to speed past Stanford by a staggering 41-second margin, and in the varsity eight, the Bears beat their rivals by a margin of five seconds, finishing the course in 6:09.30, with the Cardinal following at 6:14.30.
“I’m really proud of [the varsity eight] for having a nice row this morning and putting up fast time,” said Cal head coach Al Acosta. “Since San Diego, every week we’ve raced, it’s been against one of the top teams in the country. It’s mentally exhausting, it’s physically exhausting, but they’ve handled it really well.”
Cal’s other boats, however, were unable to meet that standard, as it lost races two through five.
The Bears’ third varsity eight finished in 6:52.50, just less than 10 seconds slower than their competitors’ time of 6:42.70. Cal’s second varsity four boat was outmatched and completed its race with a time of 7:54.60, more than 22 seconds slower than Stanford.
In the closest race of the weekend, Cal’s varsity four was just edged out by a little more than two seconds, finishing in 7:06.60. Just before the varsity eight teams met, the second varsity eight boats went head-to-head, and the Cardinal took the win after finishing in 6:20.90, four seconds faster than the Bears.
This year’s Big Row could serve as a precursor to the Pac-12 Championship, which is approaching. In two weeks’ time, Cal and Stanford could potentially meet in the waters again, competing alongside reigning conference champion No. 1 Washington.
“We’ve been making really good progress,” Acosta said. “The whole team is back and healthy. Obviously, you want to win every race, but our times are strong and keep improving. We’re feeling good and are excited for Pac-12s in two weeks.”